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Lewenberg: Valanciunas misses game with back injury

Josh Lewenberg
3/19/2014 8:35:10 PM
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NEW ORLEANS - The Toronto Raptors were without Jonas Valanciunas on Wednesday for their game in New Orleans against the Pelicans.

Valanciunas, who left Tuesday's loss to the Hawks late in the third quarter with a lower back sprain, missed his first game of the season. Head coach Dwane Casey announced the news an hour and a half prior to tip-off.
 
"His back is still tight," Casey said. "[He] wasn't able to get it loose. (Director of Sports Science) Alex (McKechnie) put him through some preliminary work and it still was tight so he's going to be out."
 
Valanciunas sustained the injury turning to set a screen, feeling immediate pain in his lower back before McKechnie and the Raptors' training staff made the call to pull him from the game.
 
After navigating through a mini-slump to close the month of February, the Raptors' sophomore centre had been playing some of his best basketball of the season over the past week. Getting off to hot starts in each of his last three games, Valanciunas has totalled 34 points on 14-of-20 shooting in the first quarter of those contests.
 
The Raptors were already undermanned in the frontcourt, missing Patrick Patterson for a seventh straight game Wednesday. He is expected to be out at least another week resting an elbow injury. 
 
Tyler Hansbrough started in place of Valanciunas. Both he and Chuck Hayes will see increased playing time as long as the team's starting centre in sidelined.

Amir Johnson also played against the Pelicans after tweaking a lingering right ankle injury at the end of regulation in Tuesday's overtime loss.
 
"We've been very fortunate not to have that many injuries up until this part of the season," said Casey. "A lot of teams had them earlier and it's unfortunate we're hitting them now but it's part of the NBA. Now we've got to adjust to it and make hay from it."
 
Valanciunas is considered day-to-day.

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